Manch­ester City pay the penalty for lack of prac­tice

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

PEP Guardi­ola ad­mit­ted his Manch­ester City play­ers had not prac­tised penal­ties be­fore they missed two dur­ing a 1-1 draw at home to Ever­ton on Oc­to­ber 15.

Kevin De Bruyne and Ser­gio Aguero both had spot-kicks saved by goal­keeper Maarten Steke­len­burg be­fore sub­sti­tute Nolito’s header earned a point for City.

For Aguero, it was a sec­ond miss of the week, after he failed to con­vert a penalty for Ar­gentina dur­ing a 1-0 World Cup qual­i­fy­ing de­feat at home to Paraguay on Oc­to­ber 11.

Guardi­ola, though, in­sists he has big­ger pri­or­i­ties than penalty prac­tice as he at­tempts to get his team back to form.

Asked if his play­ers had prac­tised penal­ties, he said, “No. I don’t have time to prac­tise every­thing I want to prac­tise.”

“You can prac­tise penal­ties in train­ing, but in train­ing, no one [a crowd] is there.”

“In the fi­nal of the Cham­pi­ons League, that is cru­cial. If the player says, ‘I want to be there’ [take the penalty], that is enough.”

Guardi­ola made a su­perb start to his reign as Manch­ester City man­ager, win­ning his first 10 matches in charge.

How­ever, his play­ers have gone three games with­out a vic­tory in all com­pe­ti­tions, and face a daunt­ing Cham­pi­ons League trip to his former club Barcelona on Oc­to­ber 19.

Guardi­ola said it was his re­spon­si­bil­ity to try and re­store con­fi­dence to his play­ers if that was an is­sue.

“I am here to try to make that hap­pen.”

“I try to an­a­lyse the rea­sons we don’t win. Of course, the con­fi­dence and mood is much bet­ter when you win.”

De­spite the fail­ure to beat Ever­ton, City en­joyed 72 per­cent of the pos­ses­sion and had 19 shots at goal to the vis­i­tors’ three.

“I am not frus­trated with the team. I am sad for the play­ers. They de­serve to win the game. They did ab­so­lutely every­thing to win it,” said Guardi­ola.

“Foot­ball is some­times beau­ti­ful. They have to be more open, play a lit­tle bit more and find spaces.”

Ever­ton man­ager Ron­ald Koe­man sug­gested Steke­len­burg had the best game of his ca­reer after not only sav­ing two penal­ties, but also mak­ing a world-class stop to deny De Bruyne later in the game.

“Maybe the goal­keeper played his best game ever. We know he is a very good goal­keeper,” Koe­man said of his fel­low Dutch­man.

“He saved two penal­ties and two more shots from Kevin De Bruyne.”

“Maybe you need luck to get a re­sult but I think we get a re­sult to­day be­cause the fight­ing spirit was amaz­ing.”

Koe­man also in­di­cated City are the best team he has faced in a man­age­rial ca­reer span­ning 15 years.

“It is the best team we have played against in my ca­reer – they have a re­ally high tempo,” Koe­man said.

“We made some mis­takes be­cause the press­ing was so high. I’m pleased with the point. We didn’t de­serve more, I know.”

“Maybe we didn’t de­serve one, count­ing the num­ber of chances, and the fact that there were two penal­ties missed. But foot­ball is un­pre­dictable and the key to get a point was the be­lief and the work rate of the play­ers.”

Photo: AFP

Manch­ester City’s Ser­gio Aguero re­acts after miss­ing a penalty dur­ing a match with Ever­ton.

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